Support our mission
 
First Sgt. David Graham, of the rear detachment for 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team performs a last roll call Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri at his memorial ceremony in Baumholder, Germany.
First Sgt. David Graham, of the rear detachment for 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team performs a last roll call Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri at his memorial ceremony in Baumholder, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
First Sgt. David Graham, of the rear detachment for 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team performs a last roll call Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri at his memorial ceremony in Baumholder, Germany.
First Sgt. David Graham, of the rear detachment for 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team performs a last roll call Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri at his memorial ceremony in Baumholder, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Joel Trammel salutes as Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Madison of the U.S. Army Europe Band plays taps at the conclusion of the memorial ceremony Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri, in Baumholder, Germany.
Staff Sgt. Joel Trammel salutes as Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Madison of the U.S. Army Europe Band plays taps at the conclusion of the memorial ceremony Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri, in Baumholder, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A soldier gives a final salute Wednesday to Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri at a memorial ceremony for the 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery soldier in Baumholder, Germany.
A soldier gives a final salute Wednesday to Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri at a memorial ceremony for the 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery soldier in Baumholder, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Mourners console each other following a Wednesday memorial ceremony for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri, in Baumholder, Germany.
Mourners console each other following a Wednesday memorial ceremony for Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri, in Baumholder, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Staff Sgt. Jose M. Caraballo Pietri died as he lived: out front, leading his troops.

Caraballo, 32, was readying his squad for a foot patrol in Afghanistan’s Badghis province when about five insurgents fired at him and his soldiers. Caraballo was shot in the leg; he later succumbed to his injuries. But not one of his soldiers was injured.

“It was no surprise to me when I found out how he was killed,” said Staff Sgt. William Hudnell, who trained with Caraballo as part of C Battery, 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “Even when we went to Graf and Hohenfels, and it was all blank rounds, he was always that way.”

On Wednesday, soldiers and civilians filled Baumholder’s chapel and mourned Caraballo’s death, the third for the brigade since it deployed in February.

A native of Yauco, Puerto Rico, Caraballo served two enlistments in the Army, joining in 1996 and then again in 2007 after a four-year hiatus. Before his current tour to Afghanistan, he had served one tour in Iraq as an ammunition team chief.

Caraballo was short, standing just above 5 feet, but his workouts were long and punishing, consisting of marathonlike runs that were interrupted by rounds of pushups and sit-ups.

“He made morning PT sessions hell,” wrote C Battery’s commander Capt. Timothy McCarthy. “He did this to harden his soldiers, and he was happy to let anyone else share in the pain. I’ve personally been run to the ground by him on several occasions.”

In a eulogy, Pfc. Edward Liebi, who was part of Caraballo’s platoon, spoke about these arduous training sessions, but also how Caraballo made the days in Afghanistan easier with his “entertaining dances and sayings.”

Liebi said he would never forget a piece of advice that Carballo imparted to him after a long training run.

“You made a good first impression because of the way you pushed yourself to the end,” Caraballo told him. “Don’t let that impression ever change, you got that?”

But it is Caraballo’s calm leadership that will be missed by his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.

“It’s going to be hard not having him there,” said Hudnell.

Hudnell leaves Thursday for Afghanistan, where he is slated to take over Caraballo’s squad.

robbinss@estripes.osd.mil

Migrated

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up